Dear Mr. Gable.

In the 1937 film Broadway Melody of 1938, a young Judy Garland sings “Dear Mr. Gable: You Made Me Love You” to a photograph of the handsome star:

“Dear Mr. Gable,
I am writing this to you
and I hope that you will read it so you’ll know
My heart beats like a hammer
and I stutter and I stammer
every time I see you at the picture show.
I guess I’m just another fan of yours
and I thought I’d write and tell you so.
You made me love you …”

Women have been falling for the charms of Clark Gable for decades, and even those of us who entered this world long after his heyday still find our hearts set aflutter by that cocky grin and rugged countenance. His films, among some of most memorable in Hollywood history, are a staple on TCM; this month alone, he’ll be popping up in six films on the network’s schedule.

Yes, even fifty years after his death, Clark Gable is a ubiquitous presence for the classic movie fan. But sometimes, he shows up in the most unexpected places.

Recently, our very smart and all-around awesome friend Leigh Pourciau discovered this framed and autographed picture of Mr. Gable in her great-grandmother’s old wardrobe!

In the photo, Gable stands in front of a plantation home on the set of the 1957 Civil War film Band of Angels. If you zoom in on the picture, you can make out the faint dedication: “To Lucille, Clark.”

I asked Leigh to tell us a little about the background of this amazing find:

“My great-grandmother, Lucille Browning Pourciau, was the head waitress at a restaurant in The Bellemont Hotel in Baton Rouge, LA in the 1950s (it’s no longer in operation, but you can find photos here). Because she was the head waitress, she always served the VIP’s. Occasionally, this included Hollywood actors and actresses who filmed movies in the area. In the late 1950s, this included Clark Gable, who was starring in Band of Angels (1957) with Yvonne de Carlo and Sidney Poitier. Apparently Clark Gable was kind enough to sign an 8×10 for her. My grandfather, her youngest son, said that she did not, however, have a high opinion of Yvonne de Carlo. Apparently, she was a snob.

She also had the pleasure of serving actor Marion Mitchell Morrison, known to us as John Wayne!

Maw Maw Pourciau and her husband (my great-grandfather) went on to own and operate their own restaurant–Frenchie’s in Baton Rouge.”

You never know what you’ll come across on any given afternoon!

Thank you, Leigh, for sharing this with us!

(Special thanks to commenters on the MovieFanFare blog for helping us correctly identify the setting of the photograph!)

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